Maps of Time and Tide.Written by Seamus Dolly
Maps, for centuries have been business of cartographers with mariners traditionally being able to make their own, in uncharted waters. Yes, expression is still used in various contexts. I suppose that given nature of open seas, one had little option but to find their own way. When a courier pigeon was quickest communication device for help, an understanding of mapping was essential to evade Davy’s Locker.
Land based cartographers were respected for their diligence and discipline that their trade required. Bench marking is another expression still used where a reference point is needed. It came from land surveyors and map makers. Particular heights above sea level were transferred inland, further and further, to give mappers some idea, as it couldn’t be guessed with any accuracy otherwise. Indeed, twenty years ago, these benchmarks were heavily relied upon, where presence of any other reference, was absent.
Now though, local authorities and surveyors use GPS or Global Positioning System. Even local civil engineers have access to this technology, and use it for projects such as small housing and commercial estates to anything bigger. So traditional benchmarking system, which was little more than a ground anchored “pad” of stone or concrete, has already been replaced by something that can view an area in a larger relative context, a satellite.
A satellites’ height above ground, or sea if you like, affords it a referencing advantage. There is no longer a need to physically walk to sea (sea level), and determine levels, thereafter. The sea is water, to some degree, and while earth is round also to some degree, water was “the great leveller”. It has also been replaced by various liquids that are more visible, and have less tendency to obscure inside of levelling chambers. Some have anti-freezing properties. You see, any accuracy relied on visual clarity of waters position within its’ clear container, and of course mappers understanding of parallax error. Parallax error is mainly a human one, where something is not viewed, correctly, or in cases like this, not viewed at 90 degrees exactly.
A photogrammetrist is a different version of a cartographer, and though their purpose is same, their approach is different. They use aeroplanes in place of mountain boots, and indeed helicopters, which speed up process. Indeed, some areas can only be practically mapped this way.
Do You Ken John Peel?Written by James Collins
Do You Ken John Peel?
My daughter Abi turned thirteen recently and as head of family she thinks it's about time her parents became vegetarians. She has been a convert, with occasional lapses, for around two years. I'm certainly not against idea. We hardly eat meat anyway; just odd bacon sandwich and an extremely rare steak (rare in numerical rather than French culinary sense), but it would be good to lose that feeling of guilt experienced when a cow looks at you over fence with those mournful eyes.
Actually cow is not at all sad - it's probably wondering if you are going to pass it some of that long green grass on other side of fence, but guilt is real enough.
Of course, not everybody feels that way. In another life I used to be a musician and I remember driving to a gig with a black American blues singer called Johnnie Mars. I pointed out some ducks which were flying low over band bus in formation. Johnnie looked up and said yep, he thought they were mighty fine, and after a moment, 'Especially with roast potatoes'.
This was said without a trace of irony. He told me later, with same straight face, that he was well known in East Poland and Latvia, which reminded me irresistibly of Dorothy Parker's line about being famous in two continents - 'Greenland and Iceland'.
Anyway, as I said, I'd like to become a vegetarian, but I think you have to pick right time. It's like giving up smoking, something I finally managed to do ten years ago after many attempts. One day, all conditions were right and I stopped, just like that.
That's how I imagine it would be when giving up meat, although as far as I know, meat is not addictive. There'll be no retrievals of half used packs of bacon from bin, or furtive trips to corner shop, ('Just going to take dog around block, dear. Won't be long').
These ruminations (isn't that what cows do? - Ed) were brought on by fact that we've recently moved house. We're now twelve miles further north and within sight of Moray Firth. (In Scotland an estuary is called a firth, so for example we have Firth of Forth - see?). Anyway, in those few miles, we've moved out of Highlands and onto coastal plain, which drops gently down to sea, about six miles away, giving us a clear view of few solitary cottages and farmhouses in area, plus remains of Duffus castle and Lossiemouth lighthouse. All this is very different from Highlands, with its hills and valleys, rough ravines and forests. Almost a different country, almost a different people. Before Jacobite uprising in 18th century and subsequent destruction of clan system, 'wild, wykked hieland men' used to swoop down onto coastal plain, steal all cattle they could cope with, burn a few cottages and disappear back into hills.
Well, clans are no longer a force, and instead there are large shooting estates, sometimes owned by old established families and sometimes by wealthy newcomers. Clients pay equivalent of price of a good second hand car for a few days shooting. We used to live in a farmhouse right in middle of one of these estates. Pheasants were as common as pigeons and sparrows are in town. It was not at all unusual to see two or three elderly gents stroll past our house, stepping stiff-legged over barbed wire fences (ouch), with their broken shotguns cradled over one arm and their labradors at heel.